(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
King of the Ring
June 13, 1993
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The WWF decided to counter WCW’s growing PPV schedule by adding a fifth yearly event. They took an old staple of the house show circuit and turned it into a PPV. The WWF held King of the Ring tournaments throughout the 80s and early 90s, but they never televised them. Wrestlers, such as Don Muraco, Harley Race, Randy Savage, Tito Santana, Ted DiBiase, and even Bret Hart, won the previous tournaments. (Yes, Bret has already won one of these.) This event would become a regular part of the PPV lineup until 2002, but it would start to have diminishing returns.
The tournament is the main focus of this event, but there is also a WWF Title Match. Hulk Hogan will defend his title in a rematch with Yokozuna. Mr. Fuji complained ever since Mania that Hogan cheated to win. He also said that the WWF shouldn’t have sanctioned the match, but I guess he forgot he was the one who issued the challenge. Jack Tunney wouldn’t reverse the decision, but he did give Yoko a rematch. Hogan, on the other hand, only appeared on TV in pre-taped interviews. He did attend a tour of Japan, but he spent that time issuing challenges for the IWGP belt and calling the WWF Title a toy. You could tell that the WWF was a little annoyed with him at this point because the commentators took a few shots at him during this show.
Meanwhile, some significant events happened on RAW since Mania. First, Marty Jannetty returned and won the Intercontinental Title from Shawn Michaels with Mr. Perfect’s help. (It’s fitting because Perfect was the one who informed Vince that Shawn lied about Marty being drunk.) Shawn would win back his title with the help of a new bodyguard, but I’ll discuss him later in this review. The second event was Razor Ramon losing to a young jobber in a shocking twist. That young man was going under various names, such as The Lightning Kid and simply, The Kid. Razor was in shock over the fluke victory and Randy Savage would antagonize him by leading the crowd in chanting, “1-2-3.” The Kid would eventually adopt the name, The 1-2-3 Kid, as a tribute to his surprise win. Razor wanted revenge, so he offered to pay the Kid $15,000 to face him in a rematch.
The show opens with a royal banner featuring two lions. The lions come to life and tear the banner down the middle to reveal the King of the Ring logo. Vince McMahon’s voice welcomes everyone to Dayton—oh, excuse me, the Heartland of America! (I guess Vince didn’t want to say Dayton because it’s a smaller town. You can tell the business is down at this point.) He says that eight superstars will bang heads to determine once and for all who is the King of the Ring. (Once and for all apparently means until next year.) Then, Vince lists the competitors and gives some of them new nicknames, such as Ruthless Razor Ramon and the Sinister Mr. Hughes. (Neither nickname would stick.)
Jim Ross then welcomes everyone to the show. He’s with Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan. Savage says they’re in Dayton because Hogan wanted to defend the title in the heart of America. (Does Hogan book the towns now?) Then, the announcers talk about the card and the Intercontinental Title Match. Heenan says that Crush is a lucky man, but Shawn Michaels will make him another victim.
Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon
Bret is listed as the number one seed. He automatically received a spot because he’s the former champion. Everyone else had to qualify to enter. Meanwhile, Razor has to deal with “1-2-3” chants as he makes his entrance and they annoy him. Also, Heenan surprisingly sings the praises of Bret Hart, but he says that Razor will cut him to ribbons. Bobby then returns to his usual self by claiming Bret is trying to buy the friendship of the fans by giving his shades to a kid.
Bret gets the early advantage, despite some Razor clotheslines. He works Ramon’s arm and holds onto it through some reversal and comeback attempts. Razor finally surprises Bret with a knee and sends him shoulder-first into the post. Then, he stomps Bret’s hands and hits a fallaway slam and a powerslam. He follows that with a side slam, but he misses some elbows. Bret fires back with punches, an inverted atomic drop, and a clothesline. He also hits a Russian leg sweep, backbreaker, and diving elbow, but Razor sends him into the corner on a bulldog attempt. Razor capitalizes by trying a Razors Edge, but Bret counters with a backslide and a roll-up that only gets a two-count. Razor fights back again and places Bret on the top rope for a super back suplex, but Bret turns in mid-air and lands on Razor for the win.
It was short, but it was crisp had had a couple of good near-falls. Razor did a great job of reacting to the crowd chants and the finish was a great nod to Razor’s recent issues with surprise losses. I like the slow-burn to a Razor face turn that they’re doing. Both men did a good job of packing just enough action and story into a short match. It wasn’t as good as their Rumble match, but it did exactly what it needed to do.
Winner: Bret Hart (10:25)
Next, they show a clip from Superstars of Giant Gonzalez, Mr. Hughes, and Harvey Wippleman attacking The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. Mr. Hughes got the urn and smashed both Taker and Paul with it. He wails on Taker with the urn, while Jerry Lawler practically cackles on commentary. Wippleman directs traffic, so Savage tells Undertaker to do the thing! (There’s that phrase again!) However, he does not do the thing. Hughes hits Paul Bearer one more time and then takes the urn as a trophy. (Taker would miss this show to sell the beating. I’m okay with that because I don’t have any desire to see more Undertaker vs. Gonzalez than necessary. I know we still have another match coming.)
Mr. Perfect vs. Mr. Hughes (w/ Harvey Wippleman)
The WWF signed Mr. Hughes to be another big man for Wippleman’s group. They effectively killed off any remaining mystique that Gonzalez had at Mania, so they needed someone else to attempt to make this feud interesting. Hughes is already in the ring when they return and he’s holding the urn while pointing at himself. Mr. Perfect then enters the arena and Heenan still sounds salty about him. Perfect gets in the ring and tosses his towel behind his back. It lands on Hughes’ shoulder, so Perfect smirks about his accuracy. He then swats his gum, so Heenan uses the Brain Scan to depict Perfect hitting a foul ball swing. (Also, during the match, they do an inset promo with Bret Hart. Ross asks him who he’d like to face and Bret says it’s down to either endurance (Perfect) or brawling (Hughes), but he’d prefer endurance. He also says he likes Perfect better.)
Hughes shoves Perfect around the ring, but Perfect catches him with an arm drag and a dropkick. Hughes doesn’t fall and answers with a punch that sends Perfect over the ropes. He then brings Perfect inside and hits headbutts and forearms before locking him in a neck vice. Perfect fights out of the hold, but Hughes hits a side kick and goes back to it. Perfect then tries pulling his tie, but that doesn’t work. (He should be careful. You can get fired for that. Just ask Daniel Bryan.) Then, Hughes whips Perfect into the corner and Perfect bumps like a boss for him, but Hughes misses a running knee attack on the ropes. Perfect answers with a hip toss, back drop, and neck whip, so Hughes grabs the urn and clocks him for a disqualification.
Mr. Perfect did his best to make Hughes look good, but nothing could save this match. Hughes is slow when he’s in control and he’s sloppy. Also, the finish made Hughes look like a fool. Hughes beating down the Undertaker made him look strong, but this match didn’t help that image. The finish made him look panicked and desperate. The WWF is having a lot of issues making Wippleman’s monsters look impressive.
Winner: Mr. Perfect (by DQ) (6:02)
Mean Gene is in the locker room with Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji. They’re listening to some soothing music on a Sony boombox, but Gene has to ruin that calm by bringing up the controversial finish to Mania. Fuji says that Yoko beat Bret in a hard match that went more than twenty minutes. (Fuji must be using that Scott Steiner math to count time.) He also says that Hogan cheated to beat Yokozuna, but this is a bigger and wiser Yoko. (I love how Yoko somehow becomes smarter and more dangerous the larger he becomes. Is that a superpower?) Then, Yoko speaks! He says, “Hulk Hogan, American hero. You and America will go DOWN! BANZAI!!!” (On a side note, Fuji calls him “Yokozuma” a couple of times. He still can’t get the name right.)
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Bigelow’s match might have been cut from Mania due to time, but that hasn’t deterred the WWF from giving him a push. In fact, they added a new twist to his character. Bigelow added Luna Vachon as his valet. She was feuding with Sherri and Bam Bam got involved to stop Sherri from attacking Luna. They began referring to Luna as Bam Bam’s “main squeeze”. (I always found that term amusing. Doesn’t it imply that he has other squeezes? Luna happens to be his main one, but he must still have side squeezes.) However, Luna is conspicuous by her absence at ringside. Also, before the match, Heenan questions why the fans still cheer so loudly for Duggan. (I have been asking that question for a while.)
The two men collide a few times until Duggan finally topples Bam Bam with some clotheslines. Bam Bam regroups and rakes the eyes, but Duggan fires back with punches. (Heenan jokes that Duggan led with his eyes, which made me chuckle.) However, Duggan misses a corner charge and hurts his ribs. Jim tries a slam, but the ribs prevent it. Bigelow takes advantage and attacks Duggan’s injury before locking him in a bear hug. Duggan attempts to fight it, but Bam Bam hits him with headbutts until he misses a diving one. Duggan attempts another slam, but Bigelow shifts his weight and returns to the bear hug. Then, Duggan breaks the hold with biting and sidesteps a Bigelow knee-lift, but he crashes into the corner on a running clothesline attempt. Bam Bam capitalizes and hits a flying headbutt for the win.
They put some decent storytelling into this short match. The story with Duggan’s ribs was good, but the match wasn’t thrilling. It did what it needed to do and the right person won, so I didn’t mind it. This might be the first clean loss I’ve seen Duggan take since—Mania IV? I would say that’s a sign that Duggan is winding down his career, but I know I’m far from seeing the last of him.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (4:59)
Next, Terry Taylor is backstage with the Steiner Brothers and the Smoking Gunns. He says this interview is a Coliseum Video exclusive. (That’s odd. The network usually shows the original PPV broadcast.) He talks to the teams about the upcoming eight-man tag match. First, he asks the Gunns for their thoughts. Billy Gunn says it could be like a battle royal because eight men will be in the ring at the same time. (Does he understand the rules of a tag team match? He will eventually because most of his career is spent in tag teams.) He also says that there’s no one he’d rather have on his team than his brother Bart and the Steiners. Terry then claims the Gunns are working on a move called the Revolver, which Bart claims can beat anybody in the WWF. Terry then turns to the Steiners and says that Scott thinks the Frankensteiner will be the key to victory and Scott agrees. He also tries to ask Rick a question, but Rick has no time for that. He cuts him off to say they’re a bunch of crazed dogs going to the ring. He then barks, so Terry ends the interview. (This was pretty standard stuff. Scott isn’t crazy yet and Billy Gunn isn’t talking about his ass, so none of them cut thrilling promos.)
The Narcissist Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Luger enters the arena and mugs for the camera before climbing into the ring. He then poses in front of his mirror. (What happened to the women?) The commentators talk about how both Luger and Tatanka are undefeated, which kind of telegraphs the finish of this match. Heenan also uses the Brain Scan to draw circles around Luger’s forearm and claims there’s a monkey wrench in there. This leads to the officials confronting Lex and asking him to put an elbow pad over his loaded forearm. He complains, but he eventually complies while Tatanka makes his entrance. Luger immediately attacks him and throws him to the floor so he can pose again, but Tatanka pushes the mirror on top of Luger. (It leaves a nasty grease patch on the mirror. Luger needs to back off on the baby oil. Also, during the match, they do an inset promo with Bigelow, who says he wants to face the Indian.)
Tatanka takes control with chops, clotheslines, and a back drop, so Luger regroups. Tatanka then goes after Luger’s arm and holds onto it through a slam and a hammerlock reversal. However, Luger answers with a back elbow, some kicks and shoulders, and a backbreaker. He also hits some jumping elbow drops with a mighty yell, but Tatanka surprises him with a roll-up for two. It’s not enough, so Luger returns to wearing down Tatanka and gloats to Heenan, who seems pleased. Tatanka manages to surprise Luger with another roll-up and a sunset flip, but neither work. Luger continues his attack and antagonizes the fans until Tatanka starts doing a war dance. He hits Lex with multiple chops, including flying ones, so Luger answers with clotheslines. He also hits a powerslam, back drop, and a suplex, but they only get two-counts. Then, he hits a backbreaker, but the time-limit expires and the bell rings.
This match was slow at times. You could tell they were eating up time for the draw. However, I thought it was still solid. It picked up towards the end and there were some good near-falls. Plus, Tatanka’s comeback got a good reaction from the crowd. They built to a good pace, but the ending was a shame. They didn’t have the confidence that Bam Bam could wrestle three matches at his size, so I understand why one match needed to end in a draw, but it’s still disappointing.
Winner: Time-Limit Draw (15:00)
After the match, the Fink announces the decision and says that Bam Bam will have a bye into the finals. Luger throws a fit and demands a microphone. He says that he wants five more minutes because he came there to become King of the Ring. The fans cheer the idea and Tatanka seems game, but Luger removes the elbow pad and blindsides Tatanka with his forearm. The officials then arrive and make Luger leave the ring.
Mean Gene is with both Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect for a head-to-head interview before their semifinal match. Gene reiterates that neither Tatanka or Luger will advance. (He accidentally calls him, “Lex Loover.”) Then, Gene stirs the pot by asking if Bret wanted to face Perfect because he’s an easier opponent. Bret says that Gene misunderstood him, but Perfect says Bret thought he could get past Mr. Hughes. Bret says he thinks he can get past Perfect too, so Perfect takes exception to the comment. Gene then causes more trouble by asking if their dads ever met and Bret says they did and his dad won. The two men then start arguing about whose dad could win in a fight. Perfect also says he remembers SummerSlam and he owes Bret one. They argue some more, so Gene tries to restore some order and asks how important the King of the Ring is to them. Both men claim certain victory and Perfect says, “May the best man win.” He fakes out Bret on a handshake and says he got Bret just like he’ll get him in the ring. Bret’s music starts playing and he leaves, so Perfect restates that he owes Bret for SummerSlam and he’s going to win. (Gene played his part perfectly. This kind of interview is great for telling a simple story and building a match. I wish they did more of these face-to-face promos.)
Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
During the entrances, all the announcers put over this match in a great way. Heenan talks about how you could see everything from wrestling to brawling, Savage is in wonder over the backstage interview, and Ross compares it to the NBA finals. (This is the kind of commentary I miss. In fact, the commentary was great throughout this show.) Also, Ross points out that Bret’s fingers are taped after the first match. (He says Mr. Perfect at first, but Heenan corrects him. I like that they’re selling the wear and tear that this tournament has had on Bret.)
The two men trade holds and counters with great intensity and then trade slams before kicking each other to the mat. Bret then surprises Perfect with a crucifix, cross body, and a slingshot sunset flip before going back to mat holds. Perfect answers with a knee, some kicks, and a dropkick that sends Bret to the floor. He then feigns allowing Bret back into the ring, but he kicks him instead. They fight to the floor again and at the ropes before Perfect sends Bret flying into the guardrail. (Bret lands awkwardly on a crate of drinks, which looked painful.) He sells that his knee is hurt, so Perfect pounces on him. He hits a missile dropkick and sends Bret chest-first into the corner. Then, Perfect goes to the top again, but Bret crotches him and hits a superplex. He follows that by attacking Perfect’s legs and locking him in a Figure Four, but Perfect eventually makes it to the ropes. Perfect responds by throwing Bret around by the hair and grabbing a sleeper hold, but Bret also reaches the ropes. (Perfect then trips and falls, but he sells it as if his knee buckled.) Perfect attempts another sleeper, but Bret ends up sending him into the post and hits a few of his usual moves. He also goes for the Sharpshooter, but Perfect attacks Bret’s hurt fingers to stop it. Then, Perfect tries for a Perfect Plex, but Bret blocks it and both men tumble out of the ring on a suplex attempt. They return and Perfect tries a roll-up, but Bret reverses it for the win.
This was great. It had good intensity and story. They built to a good pace and then turned it up a notch in the last few minutes. I would go as far as to say this was better than their SummerSlam match. (Perfect’s back was in better shape, so it’s understandable.) I liked the small details such as Perfect’s increasing frustration and Bret’s mounting injuries during the tournament. It makes me wish we got more matches between these two.
Winner: Bret Hart (18:56)
Perfect rolls out of the ring and yells at Bret, but he finally regains his composure and shakes hands with him. Savage says the match took so much out of him that he had to take off his hat and glasses. Ross asks Heenan for his thoughts, but Bobby refuses because he called him a weasel.
Next, they go backstage to a closeup of Jimmy Hart’s airbrushed Hulk Hogan jacket. Gene introduces the five-time WWF champ, Hulk Hogan, and Jimmy Hart. Hulk points at the jacket and talks about the eye of the Hulkster, the face that represents America, and the heavy duty artillery that will shoot Yoko and Fuji out of their nest. He also says there will be no sneak attacks. (Hogan is busting out all the stereotypes. I’m starting to think we all should have seen the red flags about Hogan years ago.) Hogan then says he has Yoko right in the center of the ring and the power of the Hulkamaniacs will help him remain the WWF champion. Gene reminds Hogan that Fuji will be in Yoko’s corner, so Hogan counters with Jimmy Hart. Jimmy says people always ask him what it’s like to manage Hogan, so he tells them Hulk has the red, white, & blue running through his veins and he was born and raised in the USA. (Hey, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that?) Jimmy gets so excited that he takes off his glasses and says that talking bad about America is like slapping Hogan in the face. Hogan then finishes by saying he’ll put the big man down book hook or by crook and he says his signature line.
WWF Title Match: Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. Hulk Hogan (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Yoko makes his entrance and they show that the ring is surrounded by photographers, including a rather strange looking one with a long beard. Heenan then talks about Hogan trimming down for speed. (That’s a good way of explaining Hogan’s deflated look. They can’t exactly say that he stopped using roids.) Ross also talks about Hogan not defending the title since Mania. (I feel like Vince told him to say that as a jab.) Hogan then makes his entrance and they get a great shot of Hogan standing in front of the video-wall while Yoko stares at him. (They need to go back to this style of camera work.) Meanwhile, Savage says people thought Bret Hart should have gotten the rematch and he questions why he didn’t. (Is that a nod to the fact that Hogan nixed the planned Bret/Hogan match? It’s starting to sound like they’re actively taking shots at Hogan on commentary. Also, on a side note, I should point out that the Hogan fan in full costume is ringside. I have a feeling he’s going to have a bad night.)
Yoko is able to shove Hogan around and hit him with chops, forearms, and headbutts. He also slams Hogan and whips him around the ring, but he misses a corner splash. Hogan counters with ten-punches in the corner and some biting followed by a corner clothesline. Then, he tries to slam Yoko a couple of times, but he can’t do it. Hogan hurts his back in the attempts, so Yoko attacks it. Hogan tries to fire back with clotheslines, but Yoko knocks him to the mat. However, Yoko misses a splash. Hulk then attempts a shoulder block, but he bounces off of Yokozuna and Yoko locks him in a bear hug. He starts to fade, but he recovers and punches out of the hold. Hogan’s back still hurts, so Yoko hits a belly-to-belly, but Hogan starts to hulk-up! It takes three big boots to knock Yoko to the mat and then Hogan hits the leg drop—but Yoko kicks out at two!! Hogan is in shock and goes to hit another leg drop, but the bearded photographer climbs onto the apron. Jimmy Hart tries to stop him, but he kicks Jimmy. Hogan questions what he’s doing, but then—
—the camera explodes in Hogan’s face!! Yoko immediately hits a throat chop and then a leg drop for the win. (You can see the costumed Hogan fan die a little inside.)
I enjoyed this match. I thought they set a good pace and structured it well. The ending was strange, but you knew Hogan wouldn’t job cleanly. My only complaint is that the finish was never explained properly. I’m not sure they ever revealed the photographer’s identity. (It was Harvey Wippleman in the costume, but that was never said on TV.) The finish was supposed to set up an eventual rematch, but it would never happen. This is Hogan’s final WWF PPV until 2002. However, we will see Hogan elsewhere in a year. (On a side note, Hogan has claimed that the original plan was to have Japanese ref, Tiger Hattori, be the one to screw him over, but they couldn’t get him for the show. I think that would have been a much better finish, but it sadly didn’t happen.)
Winner: Yokozuna (New Champion) (13:09)
After the match, Hogan crawls around on the mat and sells that he can’t see. Heenan jokes that the bright lights were too much for him. Yoko sees the vulnerable Hogan, so he knocks him down and hits the Banzai Drop. Ross says that Yoko has squashed Hulkamania, so Heenan declares it dead. The officials and Jimmy Hart are able to pull Hogan out of the ring and help him to the back while Ross says children are crying. (The ones they show look more bored than anything.) Yoko then poses for some photographs.
Meanwhile, Terry Taylor is backstage for another Coliseum Video exclusive with Mr. Perfect. He asks Perfect how he feels, which annoys him. He calls Bret a great wrestler and praises the match. Perfect also says he hurt his back and fingers during the match. (Is he trying to one-up Bret in the injury department?) Then, Perfect says he’d rather not talk about it anymore, so Terry throws it back to the ring.
However, they go instead to Mean Gene. He’s with the Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels, and a rather familiar looking tall guy in a rhinestone jacket. Gene says he can’t believe what they just saw, but Shawn rolls his eyes. Shawn keeps making sarcastic gestures while Gene talks about Hogan. Gene then says that lightning could strike twice in Shawn’s match, but Shawn says Hogan isn’t the caliber of competitor that he is. He calls Hogan a dinosaur and says Yokozuna gobbled him up like a brontosaurus burger, so Gene accuses him of watching too much Jurassic Park. Then, Gene asks about Shawn’s new bodyguard. He says he appeared out of nowhere. Gene asks for his name. Shawn first calls him his insurance policy, but then he says, “His name is Diesel, as in diesel fuel. That—which makes a Mack truck go.” (His delivery of the line was awkward. It sounded like he got halfway through the sentence and realized it was silly.) He also says that Diesel protects him every inch of the way.
The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns vs. Money Inc. & The Headshrinkers (w/ Afa)
The Smoking Gunns have arrived in the WWF. They have cowboy gimmicks and they both have legitimate rodeo experience, which greatly amuses Heenan. They even shoot cap guns during their entrance, which is a nice touch that they should have kept. (It’s fitting that Billy Gunn made his PPV debut at King of the Ring. He would win this tournament six years later.) Also, the Steiners are feuding with Money Inc. and would go on to trade the tag titles back and forth with them on house shows. This match is simply a way of combining feuds and getting everyone on the show.
DiBiase and Scott Steiner start the match and trade take-downs and holds until Scott hits a dropkick. He then clotheslines Ted out of the ring twice, so DiBiase regroups and tags Fatu. Bart Gunn also enters the match and outmaneuvers Fatu before hitting a dropkick and a facebuster, but Fatu no-sells it. Bart finds himself in trouble because Money Inc. and the Headshrinkers both take turns double teaming him. They suplex, back drop, and bite poor Bart before headbutting him. Then, IRS enters the match, but Bart surprises him with a sunset flip. It’s not enough, but both men end up going down to a double clothesline. Bart finally tags Billy and he cleans house until DiBiase gives him a hotshot and locks him in a Million Dollar Dream. Ted gets cocky and releases Billy, so Billy surprises him with a roll-up for the win.
This was an alright match, but it didn’t have enough time to find a rhythm. I’m surprised the Steiners didn’t get the win since they’re feuding for the titles. I guess they wanted to put over the new team. The story of the finish was well done, so I will give it credit. This was a cool-down match after Hogan/Yoko, so it served its purpose. I’m guessing it also got trimmed for time because the Steiners barely got any action.
Winners: The Steiners & The Gunns (6:49)
Next, Gene is backstage with the new WWF Champion, Yokozuna, along with Fuji and President, Jack Tunney. Jack congratulates the new champion and says that Fuji must be pleased. (Is Tunney not going to address the photographer? He really is on the take!) Fuji says he told everyone that Yoko beefed up to 500 pounds and that Hogan would go down and now Hulkamania is dead. Gene says that people are unhappy, so Fuji asks why. Gene replies that a piece of Americana died, which makes Fuji laugh. He says that America and Hulk Hogan are finished and Yoko yells, “Banzai!” Then, Fuji talks about the Japanese prince recently getting married and tells him to celebrate Yoko’s win. Gene warns a photographer not to get too close with his camera, so Fuji becomes defensive and asks him why he’s talking about cameras. Gene doesn’t answer, he instead asks if they’re going back to Japan. Fuji says they plan on celebrating there in America and implies that they will notify everyone about their plans soon. (More on that in the SummerSlam review.)
Intercontinental Title Match: Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ Diesel) vs. Crush
The WWF wanted Shawn to have a manager. He hated the Luna pairing, so he came up with the idea of having a bodyguard. Shawn saw Kevin Nash on WCW TV as Vinnie Vegas and thought he was hilarious, so he tracked down Nash’s phone number. The only problem was that Nash was still under contract with WCW. Kevin came up with a plan to fix that. He told WCW executives that he was thinking of retiring from wrestling, so they released him—only for Nash to sign with the WWF. He debuted as an unnamed bodyguard for Shawn and helped him win back his IC Title. Meanwhile, Shawn also cost Crush his spot in the King of the Ring tournament, so that’s why they booked this match. However, Crush isn’t quite done with his other feud, as you will see. (Also, during the entrances, Ross informs everyone that Hogan won’t have any permanent damage to his eyes. J.R. says they will see Hogan again, but I’ve got some bad news for him.)
Crush knocks Shawn out of the ring early with a shoulder block and also does some surprising leapfrogs and dropkicks. Shawn keeps trying to regroup, but Crush hits some arm drags and a press slam followed by a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. However, Diesel distracts Crush and Shawn attacks from behind. Then, Shawn distracts the ref and Diesel also attacks him. Shawn follows up by ramming Crush’s head into the post multiple times. It looks like Shawn is going to let the ref count out Crush, but he decides to bring him inside and attempt a pin. It doesn’t work, so Shawn hits multiple axehandles and locks him in a front facelock. Crush tries to power out more than once, but Shawn returns to the hold. Crush finally fights back and sends Shawn to the floor before hitting him with a back drop and a backbreaker. Crush also hits a big boot and leg drop, but he only gets two. (Somewhere, Hogan feels a disturbance in the force.) Then, he sends Shawn to the outside again, but—
—the two Doinks arrive and distract Crush. They march down the aisle in perfect unison while smoking cigars. (Heenan claims he can only see one of them.) They taunt Crush, so Shawn sneaks into the ring and superkicks Crush in the back of the head. He bounces off the turnbuckles and Shawn covers him for the win.
Shawn bumped around like a boss to make Crush look good and it worked. This is easily Crush’s best match yet. I thought they worked out a pretty decent story and the finish was amusing. There was a small section where it kind of dragged because Shawn was doing the facelock, but it was still a decent bout. This did a good job of continuing Crush’s feud and building Shawn’s character, so I liked it.
Winner: Shawn Michaels (11:14)
Mean Gene is with Bam Bam Bigelow and Gene brings up the fact that Bret has had two tough matches but Bigelow had a bye. He says that Bam Bam is fresh as a daisy. Bigelow agrees and says he has some business to take care of because he’s going to be the first King of the Ring. He yells about getting the job done and then leaves. (It was short, but he had good intensity.)
Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Heenan asks for Ross to pick a winner. Ross says he’d like to see Bret win, but he thinks Bigelow will win because he’s rested. Heenan agrees because he says Bam Bam is in good shape, but Bret is injured. Heenan then says he will bet everything on Bigelow. Bret makes his entrance and Heenan says, “He is one banged up—individual.” (It almost sounded like Heenan had to stop himself from cussing.)
Bam Bam misses a charge early and they trade punches, but Bigelow wins the exchange. He hits forearms and goes for a press slam, but Bret turns it into a pin attempt. He then goes after Bam Bam’s arm, but he counters with headbutts and a shoulder block before press slamming Bret to the floor. Then, Bam Bam focuses his attack on Bret’s lower back with falling headbutts and a back suplex before locking him in a bear hug. When that doesn’t work, they fight to the floor and Bret reverses Bigelow into the guardrail. He also hits an elbow off the apron, but Bam Bam catches him on another one. He rams Bret into the post and slams him on the floor. Bigelow then distracts the ref and Luna arrives to hit Bret with a chair. She quickly runs away before the ref can see her and Bam Bam rolls Bret into the ring. He then hits the flying headbutt—for the win??
WAIT!!! Earl Hebner comes to the ring and tells the ref what happened. They confer with the Fink, who says that the ref has reversed his decision. However, he misheard them. The Fink corrects himself to say that the match will continue. (I get they were going for drama, but this plot device is used inconsistently.) Bam Bam resumes his attack on Bret’s back and locks him in both a bear hug and a Canadian backbreaker. (How fitting.) Bret manages to reverse it into a back suplex, but Bigelow recovers first. However, he misses a senton splash, but Bret can’t capitalize. Bigelow returns to the backbreaker until Bret reverses it into a sleeper hold. Bigelow snap mares Bret out of the hold and they fight to the floor where Bret hits a slingshot cross body. Then, Bret takes him back into the ring and goes into his usual routine, but Bigelow blocks the Sharpshooter. They reverse through some moves again until Bret surprises Bam Bam with a boot and hits a victory roll for the win.
The match kind of dragged when Bam Bam was in control, but they still told a good story. I liked the drama and the false finish. Plus, Bret’s selling made Bam Bam look like a monster. The fans reacted well to the win. This match did a lot to make Bret look strong while also making Bigelow look like he could have won. It was a textbook example of making both competitors look like stars even in a loss. (There is an amusing story about this match that Bigelow told in a shoot interview. Bret apparently ribbed him by unloading a fart in his face during the finish because Bret knew he couldn’t move.)
Winner: Bret Hart (18:11)
Bret heads to the podium for the coronation ceremony. Mean Gene presents him with a cape, crown, and scepter. He then proclaims Bret as the King of the Ring. However, Jerry Lawler crashes the party and calls Bret an impostor. He says he’s the only King of the WWF. Jerry then says he’ll allow Bret to be a prince as long as he gets on his hands and knees and kisses his feet. Bret tells him he has a lot of nerve for someone who didn’t have the guts to enter the tournament. He then calls Lawler the Burger King and leads the crowd in chanting the name. Lawler has enough and attacks Bret from behind. He hits him with the scepter, stomps the crown, and drops the throne on Bret’s back. (Bret said in his book that Lawler hurt him with the throne shot.) Lawler then grabs the mic and tells Bret he gave him a chance, but now he’s gonna make Bret kiss his feet. He proceeds to kick Bret in the face and send him down the steps, as the show ends.
– Bret/Perfect was great.
– Hogan/Yoko was fun if a bit weird.
– Almost all of the matches were decent to great.
– The commentary was quite solid.
– Perfect/Hughes was the only bad match.
Performer of the Night:
It has to go to Bret Hart. He wrestled three good matches that all went ten minutes or longer. He showed exactly why the WWF considered him so reliable.
This was a very solid show. There was only one bad match and everything else was decent to great. It also did a good job of telling stories, building feuds, and making some of the stars look strong. This was a return to form after Mania and a gem in the middle of a lackluster time in the WWF.
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My next review will be WCW’s Beach Blast ‘93. Look for my review next Saturday.